Friday, June 5, 2015

Southwest Region AP Award Winner

Denise Loftin, an Advanced Placement (AP) calculus teacher at Spring Woods High School, has received the 2015 Southwestern Region AP Award from College Board officials.

Loftin, who has taught in Spring Branch ISD for 26 years, earned the AP honor from the College Board for her significant and positive impacts at Spring Woods High in the Advanced Placement program.

The College Board recognized her during the Southwestern Regional Forum, held in Dallas several months ago. Loftin is a Spring Woods High graduate herself and says that she is “thrilled” to return to her former high school.

She began teaching AP calculus at Stratford High School and says she learned that in classrooms with several National Merit Semifinalists, class instruction had to be totally accurate or she would be quickly challenged as an instructor.

She attended every AP conference possible to be the best instructor possible, first at Stratford High and then again more recently at Spring Woods High.

“I realized quickly that teaching students to get the answer was never going to be enough. If the students didn’t understand the material backwards, forwards, and upside down, then they were not going to do well,” Loftin states.

“I know today that I became a better teacher because of this experience. AP and the College Board reinforced my passion to teach math for understanding,” she adds.

After teaching district elementary Gifted and Talented students for several years, she returned to AP math workshops and training when she joined Spring Woods.  

“I feel like this is an award that is shared by the high school,” she said. “I had the support of the administration while working to improve the AP program here, and I have the students who will work with me. My Advanced Placement colleagues keep me going on days that are tough, and they are part of this award, too.”

AP Award Nomination excerpts for Denise Loftin:

“When I took this job at Spring Woods High School, I was told that I would find many diamonds in the rough, students who would shine if expectations were high and the teaching consistent, and I have.

“I love the students here, and once I let go of my desire to focus mainly on AP scores, I found gold in the students who were willing to work every day at their schoolwork while holding down at least one job. I found gold in the students of limited English proficiency who never give up when they rarely if ever rise above the passing level. I find satisfaction when I hear that a student who barely passed my class became an honors student in college after realizing, finally, that education requires hard work.

“This is, I think, one of the strengths of the AP program. It is uncompromising in its curriculum, and so students learn how to meet an unwavering standard. Or, they learn that if they don’t work, they will miss this opportunity.”

“I need both the challenge of working with the urban and diverse students of Spring Woods High School and the joy of watching these students realize their own capabilities. My students deserve a teacher who believes in them and their ability because they often do not believe in themselves.

“I look around my room at the students I teach and think about the endurance they show by continuing to work in the hardest class offered here, in spite of grades that are hard to make and outside pressure and demands on their time, and I know that I am lucky to be here, to be the teacher that shows them what they are capable of, and to be the transition that helps them to be successful in college.”


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